Listed in: Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, as LJST-40
Nasser Hussain (Section 01)
It is the hallmark of modernity that law is secular and rational, made by humans for their purposes. Modern law relegates the divine to the realm of private belief, while the modern state guarantees the uninterrupted observance of a multiplicity of beliefs. Yet secularism has never been an uncontested position and many philosophers have suggested that the sovereignty of the modern state is itself a worldly duplicate of religious understandings of god’s omnipotence. Today the connection of law and the sacred has taken on new urgency with the so-called “return of the religious,” most famously with the rise of political Islam but also with Christian movements in the west, and with the transformations of sovereignty through globalization. This course is a historical and cross-cultural examination of the relationship of law, sovereignty, and the sacred. It focuses on a range of topics: the understanding of secularism in general and the American doctrine of the separation of church and state in particular; the legal theory of Islamization; the meaning of orthodoxy, both legal and religious. It examines both the secular uses of the concept of the sacred, and the religious deployment of modern legal concepts. It asks how the proper names of law and god are used to anchor various normative visions. Requisite: LJST 01 or cr 10 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Hussain.